Sapa: A taste of Peru in Lebanon

The menu at SAPA is a take on Peruvian gastronomy with an international influence offering a selection of dishes:
by Maria Matar

29 May 2019 | 15:35

Source: by Annahar

  • by Maria Matar
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 29 May 2019 | 15:35

This undated photo shows a variety of dishes at Sapa. (HO)

BEIRUT: When sisters Elissa and Yasmina Yared traveled to Peru to volunteer and teach English to orphans, they didn’t know that their trip would change their lives and lead to founding the first Peruvian restaurant in the Middle East.

“We had visited many countries before, but the Peruvian cuisine dazzled us, it’s exceptional. What's unique about the country is its diversity and the 26 different climates found at any point in time; it's absolutely mind-boggling,” Yasmina said.

When they came back to Lebanon, they were eager to tell their relatives and friends about their fantastic culinary experience in particular. However, they realized that no amount of explanation can take the place of experience.

“We found out that there were no Peruvian restaurants in Lebanon, and so, we decided to transport that experience to Lebanon," Yasmina said, adding that she left her established career in Dubai due to her passionate new pursuit, and "sisterhood was the main fuel" of their journey.

They traveled back to Peru and met with suppliers of Peruvian spices and the Peruvian brandy Pisco. The latter is a colorless or yellowish-to-amber colored brandy produced in winemaking regions of Peru and Chile. Eventually, they even met the minister of Foreign Affairs, who was thrilled to know about their plan to export the Peruvian experience.

But that wasn’t all, the Yareds also worked with an expert in Pisco and made their own signature Pisco recipe.

After several months of research and preparation, the two sisters finally started a seasonal project called Cinco in Broumanna and the restaurant Sapa in Achrafieh. Cinco refers to the five grapes used to make Pisco, and Sapa in Peruvian means “the only one,” which refers to the emperor of the Incas in Peru.

Sapa’s setting is a large 100-year old house centered by a huge tree, which has been a prominent feature of the neighborhood for years. Small plants hug the walls giving a jungle-like vibe and customized lighting elements hang from the ceiling showcasing “a sky full of stars” experience.

The menu at SAPA is a take on Peruvian gastronomy with an international influence offering a selection of dishes: tapas such as the Gnocchi Al Aji, which is made up of soft dough mixed with Parmesan and white cheddar cheese, basilic, and soya in Peruvian Aji creamy sauce; Signature Rolls such as Light Vegetarian Rolls made up of rolled up bites of heaven, with rice paper, carrot, cucumber, mint, lettuce, coriander, vermicelli noodles, served with sweet chili sauce; and ceviches such as Tuna Ceviche which consists of fresh Bluefin tuna, marinated in spicy lime and soy sauce, avocado, red onion, ruccola, cherry tomato, and crispy rice paper.

The eatery also offers ensaladas, such as the Hot Calamari Salad, which is a smoked salad with grilled calamari, sweet potato, mixed greenery, cherry tomato, cucumber, red onion and a dash of garlic, in lemon sauce; and Plato Principals such as Peruvian Lomo Saltado which includes Australian beef tenderloin marinated with bell peppers, Indian and spring onions, cherry tomato, shitake mushrooms and french fries served with steamed rice.

Visitors can also enjoy desserts like The Tipsy Wheel made up of a confection of Pisco chocolate truffles or Deconstructed Red Fruit Tart, which is made of tart crusts, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, in an elegant coconut dome.

The menu also includes a variety of drinks including Pisco Sour which is a mixture of Pisco Cinco, lime juice, aromatic bitters, egg white; Berry Chilcano which is a combination of Pisco Cinco infused with Goji berry, Lavender, Ginger beer, and much more.

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